The latest Star Trek series—the forthcoming Next Generation sequel, Star Trek: Picard—will boldly go where no Trek series has gone before by seemingly having a dog as a central cast member. As fans surely know by now, a new poster for Picard reveals the titular former-Starfleet captain standing resolutely with his loyal dog Number One by his side. Now, in real life, this probably has something to do with Patrick Stewart’s love of pitbull rescues, but we really don’t know what role the dog will play in the show. Yet. But the possibilities are clearly awesome.
And although this is the first time a dog has featured on a promotional image for a big Star Trek event, this isn’t the first canine to brave the final frontier. Here are nine dogs (or dog-like creatures) from across the wide canon of Star Trek, ranked in ascending of how adorable and wonderful they are. All of these dogs are very good boys and girls (mostly), but some are just bolder than others.
9. Troi Family Dog (Star Trek: The Next Generation, “Dark Page”)
This unnamed dog only appears in telepathic visions in a late-in-the-game season 7 TNG episode in which Counselor Troi discovers that her mom has been hiding a family secret about an older sister she never knew she had. It turns out, the reason her sister died was that she chased the (unnamed) family dog and drowned. Sorry, unnamed family dog of the Troi family; you’re heckin’ cute and you didn’t deserve this but you’re getting ranked last because of all this tragic backstory.
8. Kruge’s Klingon Targ, Other Targs (Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, et al.)
Oh man. Klingon dogs are all over the place. The first time we saw a Klingon Targ—their version of a dog—it was the one owned by Commander “Doc” Krudge (played by Christopher Lloyd) in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock. In many ways, Krudge is the beginning of the modern Klingon, since he’s the first actor in the forehead-ridged makeup with speaking lines in English. (All the lobster-head Klingons in The Motion Picture only spoke in Klingon.) Anyway, Krudge’s Targ looks like a demon hound from hell. But later, in Trek canon, some Targs looked like pigs with horns.
7. Maura, Lt. Aquiel Uhnari’s Terrier Mix (Star Trek: The Next Generation, “Aquiel”.)
In this season 6 episode of The Next Generation, Geordi falls in love with a trouble-making Starfleet officer accused of murder. He also really bonds with her dog, Maura, who was left behind on a tiny, tiny space station. But—spoiler alert—the dog is really a shapeshifting monster that has only taken the form of Maura! We think the real Maura would have ranked higher on this list, but the shapeshifting murder-version gets a lower slot. And we can’t explain why this murder-dog is ranked higher than Troi’s murder-dog. Sorry, Maura!
6. I-Chaya, Spock’s Sehlat (Star Trek: The Animated Series, “Yesteryear,” et al.)
First mentioned in the TOS episode “Journey To Babel,” Spock’s dog-like childhood pet was described by his mom Amanda and Spock as “teddy bear” that also had “fangs.” Then, in “Yesteryear”—an excellent episode of the animated series written by original series writer and story editor D.C. Fontana—we get to see the Sehlat named I-Chaya in the flesh. This episode sadly features the death of I-Chaya, which actually creates a small alternate timeline. Why Star Trek: Discovery failed to show us I-Chaya in the Michael Burnham and Spock childhood flashbacks is truly baffling.
5. Mollie, Captain Janeway’s Irish Setter (and her puppies) (Star Trek: Voyager)
Before Janeway took command of the USS Voyager in the season debut episode “Caretaker,” she left her Irish setter named Mollie (sometimes spelled Molly) in the care of a dude named Mark Johnson. The only image of Mollie exists in a blurry photograph in Janeway’s ready room on Voyager. But in the episode “The Q and the Grey,” Q reveals to Janeway that Mollie had some puppies, and Janeway briefly gets to hold one of them. This adorable scene alone puts Mollie very high on this list, despite the fact we really never saw her on screen.
4. Butler, Captain Kirk’s Great Dane (Star Trek: Generations)
In Star Trek Generations, Kirk’s Nexus flashback is very confusing. Apparently, at some point in-between Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, Kirk retired from Starfleet and lived in his family’s farmhouse in Idaho, even though he was born in Iowa? (Which, weirdly has shades of the set-up for Star Trek: Picard.) Anyway, at the farm, Kirk was in love with a woman named Antonia, and he also had a really cool-looking Great Dane named Butler. It’s a quick scene, but man do you believe Kirk loves that dog. BUTLER!
3. Alfa 177 canine (Star Trek: The Original Series, “The Enemy Within”)
You knew this thing had to be on here! One of the earliest Star Trek episodes, “The Enemy Within” featured Trek’s very first space dog. Tragically, because the transporters got really messed up in this episode, the little Alfa 177 canine didn’t make it out of this episode in one piece. Despite that, and the fact the Alfa 177 canine is unnamed, its little unicorn horn and weird tail will live in our hearts forever.
2. “Number One,” the As-Yet-Unnamed Picard Pitbull, (Star Trek: Picard)
Yeah, even though we know almost nothing about Jean-Luc’s new pitbull in the forthcoming series Star Trek: Picard, the fact that its got a tag that says “No. 1” and it’s clearly inspired by Patrick Stewart’s real-life philanthropy with rescue dogs is enough to make us love, love, love this dog. Is the dog really named “Number One?” Is that a tribute to Riker? Was the dog a gift from Riker? (Wait, is Riker… dead? Actually, are any of the bridge crew alive?)
1. Porthos, Captain Archer’s Beagle (Star Trek: Enterprise, et al.)
Though it’s the least-popular Star Trek series, Enterprise hands-down has the best dog. For four seasons of Star Trek: Enterprise, the lovable and wise beagle named Porthos was Captain Archer’s best friend, and also, very easily, the greatest dog in Star Trek history. In the Star Trek 2009 reboot, Scotty mentions accidentally beaming “Admiral Archer’s prized beagle” to an unknown location, an unseen dog that was maybe, or maybe not, a descendent of Porthos. Finally, in an issue of the IDW comic Star Trek: Waypoint, it was revealed that Porthos accidentally traveled back in time and saved Archer’s life when he was a young boy. So yeah, this dog saved the first Captain of the Enterprise because of time travel. Best Trek dog. Ever.
Ryan Britt is a longtime contributor to Tor.com. His other science fiction essays and journalism has been published by SyFy Wire, Den of Geek!, Inverse, and StarTrek.com He is the author of the essay collection Luke Skywalker Can’t Read (Penguin Random House) and an editor at Fatherly. Despite compiling this list, Ryan is more of a cat person, though his 2-year-old daughter’s love of dogs may change all of that in the near future.